In Perspective: Prop 37 defeated; proponents undeterred
Colleen Scherer Although many in the agriculture industry considered the defeat of Proposition 37 in California a success for the industry, proponents of the law did not take the loss well. Proposition 37 would have required all food items to be labeled if they contained genetically modified organisms.
GM labeling proponents appeared shocked by the outcome of the voting, but don’t let their disappointment convince you the issue is dead. They have new initiatives in the works.
If California’s proposition 37 had passed, it would have been the GM labeling crowd’s biggest win to getting GM foods labeled in the United States. Without a state victory, the push to get foods labeled isn’t exactly on the back burner.
The setback is not deterring the anti-GMO crowd. It is moving forward, just on a different scale. In California, one county passed an initiative to ban the growing of GMO crops. The initiative makes it illegal in San Juan County to “propagate, cultivate, raise or grow plants, animals and other organisms which have been genetically modified.” The only way they can be grown is if they are grown by health care providers and researchers.
But the main goal of the anti-GMO movement is still to get food companies to label products that contain GMOs. To achieve that goal, these activists have a three-pronged approach.
In order to get companies to label foods that contain GMOs they still need to win an initiative in one state. Now that California’s Proposition 37 failed, the first prong of their strategy has moved to Oregon and Washington state by planning new state initiatives that would require labeling of GMOs.
Their second prong strategy is to focus on Washington, D.C., and the Food and Drug Administration. They’ve already announced the intention to force FDA to label GM foods by threatening a federal lawsuit. The Center for Food Safety filed a petition October 2011 as part of its strategy to bring a federal lawsuit against FDA. Also, with President Barack Obama’s re-election, supporters of GM labeling expect support from the president because they view him as being supportive of labeling.
On a national consumer focus, the activists have launched a national coalition called GMO Inside that advocates for increased consumer awareness of GMOs in foods. The coalition launched the week before Thanksgiving, one of the biggest food holidays in the United States. GMO Inside started by “offering tips and suggestions for consumers on how to remove unwanted GMOs from their holiday feasts.”